wants to introduce the ideas of monotheism in his pagan society. Nevertheless, the damage done by his leaving the camp of Israel in the desert becomes irreparable. The Jews suffer a loss of morale and confidence. Their mood turns sour. And when one's mood is dark, no menu or diet is good, no leadership is acceptable, no faith can be sustained. The great opportunity for entry into the Land of Israel is lost for the generation of those who left Egypt.
Small details and foul moods combine to create catastrophe. This scenario is present in all generations of Jewish history, certainly in ours. There are many unpleasant details that darken the general Jewish scene. If we fall prey to those problems and interrupt our grand march towards a Torah society and the strengthening of Israel, we shall also suffer from the loss of the opportunity presented to us in our time. To see the large picture, to rise above the weaknesses of time and detail and to be optimistic and hopeful - this is the challenge the Torah reading presents before us.
May we be worthy of this challenge and escape the trap of the desert that engulfed our ancestors.
Shabat shalom. Rabbi Berel Wein
MessageFrom: chrysler [email@example.com] Sent: Thursday, May 23, 2002 5:15 PM To: Midei Parsha Subject: Midei Shabbos by RABBI ELIEZER CHRYSLER Vol. 9 No. 33
Parshat Beha'aloscha One Sin Leads to Another The Gemara in Shabbos (116a) cites a Machlokes between Rebbi and Raban Shimon ben Gamliel. It explains how, according to Rebbi, the Parshah of "Vayehi bi'n'so'a ho'Oron"(10:35), is written in its correct place, and the two 'Nunin' there serve as a form of brackets (parenthesis), symbolizing that these two Pesukim are 'a Book on their own'. And how consequently, the Torah consists of seven books, rather than five (in keeping with the Pasuk in Mishlei 9:1) "He carved its pillars seven". Raban Shimon ben Gamliel, on the other hand, holds that the Torah consists of five books and not seven. He considers these two Pesukim to be out of place, and the two (back to front) 'Nunin' indicate that they belong fifty Parshiyos back in Bamidbar (where the Torah deals with the journeys in the desert). And the reason the Torah inserts them here is 'to divide between one punishment and another'. (I have deviated slightly from Rabeinu Bachye, who establishes Raban Shimon ben Gamliel as a third opinion in the Gemara, rather than being synonymous with the Tana Kama).
According to Rashi, the Gemara is referring to the two sins which follow immediately - their grumbling about the lack of meat (which began already during the first three days [before the Parshah of "Vayehi bi'n'so'a ho'Oron"]), and their unspecified grumbling (which the commentaries ascribe to their having to travel in the desert). Tosfos however, disagrees (presumably because then the two sins are mentioned in the reverse order (see Ramban on the Pasuk), and besides, both sins are then written after "Vayehi bi'n'so'a ho'Oron", leaving us with no real division. Consequently, the Ramban (as well as many other commentaries) cite the Medrash that Yisrael sinned when they left Har Sinai (which the Torah has just described in the previous Pasuk), by running away from it 'like a child runs away from school'. And that is the fist sin, the sin which the Gemara describes as having taken place before "Vayehi bi'n'so'a ho'Oron". In fact, the Ramban goes even further. In his opinion, it is not just two punishments juxtaposed which the Torah is trying to avoid, but three: running away from Har Sinai like a child … , and their grumbling, first about travelling and then about the shortage of meat.
And what the Torah sets out to avoid here is that Yisrael should develop a Chazakah (a triumvirate) of punishments. One of the other punishments, (as opposed to just sins) suggests the Ramban, is the fact that they did not enter Eretz Yisrael immediately, as they would otherwise have done.
The difficulty with the Ramban's interpretation of Chazal lies in the fact that Chazal only refer to two punishments and not three.
According to his explanation they should have said, not 'to divide between one punishment and another', but 'in order to divide between two of the punishments and the third'. And what's more, it would then have been more appropriate to make the break between the second sin and the third (in order to stop the Chazakah), rather than between the first and second. Maybe that is why Rabeinu Bachye, who often follows in the footsteps of the Ramban, prefers here to learn like Rashi. In fact, he equates the sin of Yisrael's desire with that of their running away from Har Sinai. Yisrael ran away from Har Sinai like a child from school, he explains, because they had had enough of 'ruchniyus' (spirituality). They wanted more 'gashmiyus' (physicality), which they deliberately developed, as implied by the words "his'avu ta'avah" (they desired [to have] a desire). That was their first sin, as Rashi explains.
I would suggest another way of understanding the Gemara in Shabbos. Rabeinu Bachye himself points out how their complaint about the travels in the desert and their desire for meat did not end there. (Besides what Chazal say, that they immediately went on to grumble about the prohibition of incest), this Parshah is followed in quick succession, by the Lashon ha'ra of Miriam, and the Parshah of the Spies (one sin leads to another - all the sins note, are connected with evil speech). So we see that we are dealing here, not with one or even two, sins, but with a spate of sins that takes up the whole of this Parshah as well as the next (and even beyond).
A great man once said that when, in the World to Come, a person is taken to task for idle chatter, he will not be asked why he spoke devarim beteilim for so many hours, but why he began speaking in the first place. Having begun, he cannot help but continue, and 'O'nes Rachmana patreih' (one is not taken to task for something that is beyond his control). It is his opening words which he could, and should, have nipped in the bud.
The same concept can be applied to the idea of 'Aveirah goreres aveirah'. Having sinned once, he is, to a certain degree, an O'nes on his subsequent sins, and the brunt of his guilt lies on his first sin (perhaps we can refer to them as 'the cause'). The subsequent sins are one string of sins, rather than so many individual ones ('the effect'). And that is what Chazal mean when they say that the Torah inserts "Vayehi bi'n'so'a ho'Oron" 'to divide between one punishment and another. Because in this way, the cause (running away from Har Sinai), is on one side of the divider, and the effect (the ensuing sins), on the other.
From: Yeshivat Har Etzion Office [firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Sunday, May 26, 2002 3:24 AM To: email@example.com Subject: SICHOT62 -31: Parashat Beha'alotekha
Yeshivat Har Etzion Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash (Vbm) Summaries Of Sichot Delivered By The Roshei Yeshiva Beha'alotkha
SICHA OF HARAV YEHUDA AMITAL SHLIT"A OBLIGATION AND INITIATIVE
Summarized by Ari Mermelstein
In the beginning of this week's parasha, Rashi explains why the command for Aharon to light the menora follows the section dealing with the sacrifices brought by the tribal leaders (nesi'im). Upon witnessing the tribal leaders' role in the consecration of the mishkan, Aharon grew envious of the great honor which G-d bestowed upon them. In order to allay his anxiety, G-d gave Aharon the daily task of lighting the menora, an honor which far outweighed that of the tribal leaders.
The Ramban (Bamidbar 8:1) is disturbed by this midrash. Did Aharon not know that the tribal leaders' sacrifices paled in comparison with the sacrifices he was designated to bring at the consecration of the mishkan? Furthermore, why would G-d choose to console Aharon specifically by honoring him with the daily lighting of the menora, as opposed to his other functions in the mishkan, such as the daily incense offering or the Yom Kippur service?